Construction of renewable power plant around the world geared up in 2022, despite the economic pressures linked to the global energy crisis, with almost 300GW of projects joining the worldwide fleet, according to latest figures from the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena).
The 9.6% growth, which took total clean power capacity to close to 3.4TW, saw renewables account for 83% of additions, said Irena in its Renewable Capacity Statistics 2023 reports, “confirming the upward trend of renewables against declining new fossil fuel capacity”.
“This continued record growth shows the resilience of renewable energy amidst the lingering energy crisis,” said Irena director-general Francesco La Camera. “The strong business case of renewables coupled with enabling policies has sustained an upward trend of their share in the global energy mix year on year.”
But La Camera underscored that the yearly rate of build-out of renewable power capacity “must grow three times the current level by 2030, if we want to stay on a pathway limiting global warming to 1.5°C” in line with the Paris Agreement targets.
Solar capacity leapt over 190GW in PV added to the grid in 2022, up 22% on 2021, while some 75GW of wind plant was also brought into operation, up 9% on the year earlier, though a further slow-down in growth compared against the two years previous.
Renewable hydropower plant expanded by 21GW, up 2%, “consistent with recent years”, said Irena, while bioenergy capacity growth “slowed slightly” on 2021, up 7.6GW compared 8.1GW the year previous, and geothermal energy saw a “very modest” 181MW added to its global fleet.
Irena reported that while many countries expanded their renewable capacity in 2022, the most significant growth continues to be “persistently concentrated in a few countries and regions”, namely Asia, the US and Europe.
Agency data revealed almost half of all new renewables capacity was added in Asia last year, resulting in the regional plant base growing to a total of 1.63TW. China was the biggest contributor, adding 141GW of renewables on its own. Oceania, meanwhile, continued double-digit growth with an expansion of 5.2GW of renewables plant.
The Middle East, Irena noted, recorded its highest increase in renewables on record, with 3.2GW of new capacity commissioned in 2022, an increase of 12.8%
In Europe and North America renewables grew by 57.3GW and 29.1GW, respectively, while Africa saw “steady” growth of 2.7GW, just above last year’s figure. And South America continued to ride an upward trend, with an expansion of 18.2GW.
La Camera said: “As energy demand is expected to rise in many regions of the world, the energy transition requires a step-change that delivers a strategic shift beyond the decarbonisation of the supply side.
“Any expansion of new non-renewables capacity in light of recent global events must be connected to efforts to accelerate the energy transition to make the system more resilient, inclusive and climate-proof.”
Irena noted that while hydropower represented the largest share of the global total renewable generation capacity, with 1.25TW, solar and wind “dominate” new plant construction, together, making up 90% of all new renewable capacity added 2022.